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Good concept, but for me it didn't work as it should have done
Before I Go to Sleep - S J Watson
Member Name: carlz2001uk
Before I Go to Sleep - S J Watson
Advantages: Good concept, likeable main character
Disadvantages: Not believable in some areas, the journal doesn't work
I read quite a few books each month. On average about one a week and always tend to go for the same type of books - detective / murder / crime, etc. I decided I needed a change even though I really haven't ever found a genre that really captivates me. Rather than going for the usual authors, I thought I'd try someone new on a recent visit to Smiths. Before I went I decided to see what was out there and what was recommended. I decided to look on Richard and Judy's book club as I'm always hearing friends recommend books from their website. I instantly liked the sound of this one and what Richard and Judy had to say about it, with Judy saying: 'Before I Go To Sleep is a jolting, sometimes terrifying exploration of what it is like to lose one's memory, utterly and completely'.
The story follows Christine Lucas who suffers from amnesia. We are told that she had an accident and subsequently each night has her memory erased so when she wakes up each morning she believes she is either a child or still in her twenties (before the accident) and has no idea who the man lying in bed next to her is. Nor can she comprehend the reflection she sees in the mirror each morning, of a 40 something woman with wrinkles, thinning hair and generally not the younger looking version she expected. The book sometimes reads as a novel but other times takes on the form of Christine's journal, which she uses (from the recommendation of her doctor) to help log her memories in an attempt to recover them each day. She painstakingly logs her memories and rereads them the next day. Tension does seem to build after she discovers an entry which simply reads 'Don't trust Ben' (her husband). I found the journey to this point quite slow, as it really does read like Groundhog Day with much repetition each day to get her to a point of reading the journal and trying to build on her memories.
The book was written in a slightly strange style. I mentioned earlier that it takes on the form of a journal; however it isn't (in my opinion) written in this way and seems to just be a continuation of the book with a date at the start of the chapter. There are parts when tension is building and in my opinion would have been written in short, sharp sentences rather than long and descriptive narration. In the author's defense, Christine was once a published writer however; it just didn't seem believable that she would be writing in this way (especially if she had to read it every day!). For this reason, I feel the book was mainly padded out rather than having much substance.
I thought I had figured the book out by the mid-point way, and I had to some extent, but there was still a twist that I wasn't expecting, all be it I found many flaws with the plausibility of the ending but I can't go into them as I'll give the whole thing away! I can't with all honesty say I will be looking out for this author again, nor will I be telling people to rush out and immediately hunt this book down. What I will say is that it has an interesting concept, but the way in which it is executed could have been improved. I am perhaps the only person to think this of the book as it has currently been at the top of the UK Sunday Times bestseller list for 5 weeks.
Currently for sale on Amazon for £3.86 for the paper version or £2.39 for the Kindle edition.
Summary: 3 stars